Turning to an outside coach can help even the most successful and established multi-million dollar financial advisors and their practices run more smoothly.
Four successful female financial advisors, who took part on the “Multi-Million Dollar Woman” panel at the Women Advisors Forum conference on Tuesday, said they have done just that. And their practices, in turn, have become even more successful for it, they said.
Financial advisor Patricia A. Koney said she signed on with a coach after she decided to become a financial advisor 24 years ago because of her skills in working with clients, though she continues to learn to manage a business.
“I did not sign up to be a business owner,” said Koney, a private wealth advisor at Patricia A. Koney & Associates at Ameriprise Financial. “I didn’t know what all this was about - the drama, the paychecks, the patience, hiring people, firing people.”
Koney now sees her coach once a month, and she said the meeting is like a “shot of adrenaline” that helps her stay on track. Working with the coach has forced her to more carefully allocate her time instead of constantly trying to multitask. Koney meets with her team weekly for two hours on Monday, and with each member of her team for one hour per week. After that, she tries to limit interruptions and focus on what she needs to accomplish.
For Sherri Stephens, president and financial advisors at Stephens Wealth Management Group at Raymond James Financial Services, going through the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 with the processes they had in place was more painful than it should have been. At the end of 2010, she decided that that needed to change and hired a coach.
“The outcome was all about building processes, getting the right people on my team,” Stephens said. “I ended up firing my most tenured associate, unfortunately, but a lot of good things, a lot of great things came out of that.”
Lori Watt, president of Investors Advisory Group, who has 30 years of financial planning experience, said her practice also worked with a coach about seven years ago. The result was a change in their systems that led to “consistency in how we handle situations, consistency in how we serve our clients,” Watt said. “It was well worth the time and the headache.”
Taking on a coach does not necessarily mean a financial advisory team has to overhaul their practice. Judith McNiff, vice president of investments at Wells Fargo Advisors, said she works with a coach to troubleshoot where she was weakest: marketing and promotion. Now, her coach helps her come up with titles for seminars, and improve her marketing and website content.
“There is so much writing we have to do about ourselves to promote ourselves,” McNiff said. “She has helped me differentiate myself from other advisors.”
Just like finding the right financial advisor and client match, it takes time to find the right coach, the panelists said. McNiff said she found her coach after joining the professional association eWomenNetwork, which included two free sessions with a coach when signing up for a membership. Others said they found their coaches through colleague or firm referrals. The most important part of that search, they said, is knowing what you are looking for.
“You need to know what it is you want to accomplish,” Stephens said. “I talked to the person that was referred to me and asked a whole list of questions and got all the right answers, as far as I was concerned.”
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